Winter Tips: 5 Steps to Get the Most Out of Your Fireplace

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Following a few simple steps before using your fireplace can help you reduce wood use by more than 30 percent and make your home even toastier on frigid winter nights, according to the U.S. EPA’s Burn Wise program. Photo: Shutterstock

Opting for firewood rather than turning on the thermostat in the early winter months is a helpful way to save energy for many homeowners. But how do you know if you’re getting the most out of your cozy fire?

The U.S. EPA’s Burn Wise program provides homeowners with best practices that can cut firewood use by more than 30 percent and keep your home toastier and more comfortable on those frigid nights. Give the following tips a try this season, and learn to burn the eco way.

1. Prepare your wood properly

“Before burning firewood, be sure it is properly dried and seasoned,” the EPA suggests. “Wet wood can create excessive smoke which is essentially wasted fuel.”

If you’re cutting firewood yourself, the EPA recommends following four simple steps to make sure your wood is dried properly:

  • Split: Split wood in a range of sizes to fit your stove, but do not cut pieces that are larger than 6 inches in diameter to ensure proper burning.
  • Stack: Stack wood split-side down and off the ground to allow air to circulate around the wood.
  • Cover: Cover the top of the stacked wood with a heavy-duty tarp to protect it from rain and snow.
  • Store: Store wood for a minimum of 6 months for softwoods and 12 months for hardwoods.

To test the moisture level of your firewood, consider using a wood moisture meter, which can cost as little as $20 and save you loads of money in the long run. Properly dried wood should have a moisture reading of 20 percent or less, the EPA says.

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